Commentaries, Reminiscences and Sea Stories
Paul Rokoff

Muses from my time on the Dutton
January 1972 - November 1974
Posted on 1/21/2008

Bell Pepper Pete.

I love Bell Peppers; always have and always will, but when I was on the Dutton one cook named Pete put Bell Peppers in everything. I liked them but I remember the comments of everyone else about bell peppers in everything. Salads, eggs, pot roast, SOS, you name it, Pete put Bell Peppers in it.

Sun bathing on the Dutton.

Looking at the pictures on this site of the Dutton being made ready to be cut up I noticed the flying bridge. This brought back memories of lying out in the sun up there getting nice and warm We'd reached the end of a track and all of a sudden you were in the shade. I got a pretty good tan on the Dutton.

The Post Office.

During my time we got an official US Post Office. The reason: movies were lost in the mail and they found out they were not insured. I was the second Postmaster. Stuckert was the first.

You would think that this would improve the mail. NOT! I remember in late October or November 1973 we received what looked like Christmas packages. All was good until I looked at the date the bag was packed. 1972!

There was a fruit cake in there that you could pound nails with!

The Great Hamburger Story.

This story is true. The facts have changed over time to protect and enhance the story teller :-).

When I first came to the Dutton she was at the Norfolk Shipyards. The crew had to have quarters, so we spent the entire time while in the yards living at a Holiday Inn. You can get tired of Steak and Lobster Tail!

After the overhaul the ship was tied up at the International pier, not the Navy Base. The unit was issued a pickup truck for miscellaneous transportation needs. (The truck looked like if you removed the rust there would be nothing left.) One of these needs was to go to the Naval Base Post Office and pick up our Registered Mail. One day, the XO asked the two sailors on the mail run to stop at McDonald's on the way back and get him some lunch.

At this time the Navy was making a big deal out of going on 'Liberty' in work uniforms. The team (I can't remember if I was on this run or not) was stopped by the Shore Patrol at the McDonald's and ordered to return to their command because they were out of uniform. The mail team was to be returned to the Dutton in the custody of the Shore Patrolman, a First Class Bosun's Mate. Originally, the mail was to be left behind in the OnUnit's truck, but when it was pointed out that it was registered mail it was taken along. The hamburgers, however, were left behind.

Now, the SP began getting worried when he found out that the ship was at the International pier, not the Navy Base. Arriving at the ship, the team casually boarded Dutton, waiving at the MSTS gangway watch, while the SP snapped to attention, saluted the flag, requested permission to come aboard, etc. The MSTS "quarterdeck" watch was in his 50's, wearing a dirty white hat, and as usual slouched by the little wood shack that we set up by the gangway when in port. Not what you would expect of a US Navy ship. The SP finally made his way to the OCUnit spaces where he asked for the OOD. Our watch stander at the time I think was the Photog. He answered that it probably was him (he was a 2nd class). The SP then asked for the ranking officer. The XO showed up; he was an LT. When the problem was explained to him, he jokingly told the team they would be confined to the ship for 28 days starting the day after tomorrow. Of course, unbeknownst to the SP, we were leaving on a 28 day survey cruise the next day! Then, he ordered the SP to give the team a ride back to get the truck and pickup more hamburgers since his were cold by now!

This really happened!

Go Fly a Kite!

While I was aboard Dutton, we stood six-hour watches in four sections: six on and eighteen hours off. One of my pastimes during off watch time was flying box kites from the fantail. I purchased about six of these kites when we were in Norfolk. Most had a Star-Trek theme. At 16-18 knots they could reach an altitude of 1/4 mile. You needed binoculars to see them!

I often wondered if a box kite would make a good radar target coated with aluminum foil. One day when we were being followed by a Russian "trawler" I decided to try this out. I wrapped aluminum foil around one of my kites, and when we turned into the wind I launched my new super kite. When it reached altitude I cut it loose! We went one way and the kite went another, chased by the trawler!

A few hours later the trawler came up over the horizon ‘turning and burning’, just as we finished an ocean station. They'd been had, they knew it, and I suppose they must have been pissed!

I never got my kite back!

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